Riding a motorcycle is a freeing experience. There are few vehicles that allow the rider to feel as much control over their machine or experience traveling as intimately as a motorcycle. It is also one of the most dangerous ways to travel, with a 37 times higher risk of death in accidents than a motorist in a car.
Conversely, pickup trucks are among the largest, most powerful vehicles a typical motorist may drive. The weight and power of a full-size pickup truck make accidents they are involved with exceptionally devastating in nearly all circumstances. Based on this, it’s clear that accidents between a motorcyclist and a pickup rarely end without major injury.
Collision in suburban Los Angeles
This was the situation in early 2017 when U.S. Air Force Captain Jason Lo was stopped at a red light in suburban Los Angeles. According to Insurance Journal, Lo was suddenly struck from behind by a SoCal Gas pickup truck. Through a terrifying series of events, both Lo and his motorcycle became wedged beneath the truck and were dragged over 430 feet.
The truck’s driver, Dominick Consolazio, was reported to have been suffering a seizure at the time of the collision. Consolazio was eventually stopped as he sped toward a freeway onramp when other motorists coordinated to surround the pickup truck and bring it to a stop. He later plead guilty to hit-and-run driving.
Lo suffered severe injuries, nearly losing his right leg, and losing 40 percent of his blood. He has since undergone many surgeries and is expected to undergo several more. Amputation of the affected leg is still a possibility. This accident came six months after the then 30-year-old Captain had been married.
Court case and major settlement
SoCal Gas almost immediately took responsibility for the accident, accepting liability due to Consolazio’s actions being a result of him carrying out his job. The company knew that Consolazio suffered epileptic seizures and continued to suffer them without warning despite taking medication.
In a civil trial, SoCal Gas’ attorney argued that $9 million in compensation damages was a fair settlement for the accident. A jury however eventually determined that the company had to award Lo and his wife just under $42 million in compensatory damages. Before the jury could deliberate on how much more the company would owe for punitive damages, the case was settled for $46 million.
Lo and his wife accepted compensation they felt was fair, but it does not erase the damage done. Always take extra care when driving to avoid possible collisions and give motorcyclists extra space and time to react when sharing the road.